Years ago, I was in a hotel restaurant in Samarkand, Uzbekistan – I was there in the middle of a long trek though Central Asia – and I was talking to a few of the locals. When you travel alone, I've found, striking up a conversation with strangers is easy. When I say "talked with," I'm perhaps overstating it. I don't speak Uzbek, or much Russian. And they certainly didn't speak much English. But given enough vodka and the right attitude people can make themselves understood...